Sunday June 11, 2023 we held a final service of Word and Sacrament for NT-NL Synod, ELCA congregation Immanuel Lutheran-Posey, TX (located 15 miles southeast of Lubbock on Highway 84). This service happened almost exactly 108 years and one month from its first service on May 15, 1915.
The Posey community was a small unincorporated settlement centered on a cotton gin and a railroad switch. At it’s population height in the 1940s it numbered 15-20 families and 70-80 people. Most of which were members of the German Lutheran congregation founded in 1915.
By the 1960s the elementary school had been consolidated into nearby Slaton (home of Grace Lutheran) and the community began to numerically decline. In recent years the cotton gin was purchased and, while the signage was refurbished the gin was stripped for parts.
SAWL Alan Ehlo has faithfully served the community here as they have struggled to make the difficult decisions about their future as attendance fell under 10 a Sunday. While decisions to end Word and sacrament ministry are never taken lightly, there comes a point when communities must make decisions to ensure stewardship of property and the capacity of the community.
As I reminded the community in my sermon today, Immanuel, God with us, means that God is never centered in a building or any one place, God shows up wherever God chooses. And this community, planted in a beautiful yet also harsh environment, has lived that for 108 years. Truly a gift of the Holy Spirit.
It was gratifying to see a good turnout of those who grew up in the community and wanted to be present today. We also celebrated the organist Marylin who has faithfully served the congregation in that role for 67 years. She gathered at the altar with 5 generations of her family to receive the Eucharist. The great-granddaughter of the founding pastor was also present. An emotional day as we remembered that we do not grieve the ending of ministry in buildings but the people and community that once was there that meant so much to us. The legacy is the lives impacted and the people who then, we are charged, to go and tell others about Jesus.
The Immanuel building has been designated a Texas Historical Landmark. As such the synod will work with the remained congregation members to ensure the facility does not fall into disrepair and hopefully can find productive use. This is the work we do together, as church, to preserve our history and care for community while most importantly caring for the people who remain faithful to the mission. #NTNL #InMissionTogether